'INCOMPREHENSIBLE': That was the verdict of a Somerset MP after it was announced Highways England had donated £500,000 to the campaign to restore Wellington Monument.

The agency – whose role is to operate, maintain and improve the country’s A roads and motorways – is handing over £500,000 from its ‘cultural heritage fund’ to a campaign to save the Wellington Monument.

But Bridgwater and West Somerset MP, Ian Liddell-Grainger, said while the restoration was a commendable project, people would not be 'all that impressed' at the news.

“This is one of the most familiar landmarks in the whole of Somerset and clearly is held in great affection by many local people,” he said.

“But I cannot understand the logic in siphoning money out of Highways England’s budget to help with the restoration.

"Anyone driving on Somerset’s A roads will have no doubt where that money would be better used because the evidence is under their tyres.

“I find it incomprehensible that taxpayers’ money is being diverted to this project, worthy though it might be, when for lack of proper funding my constituents and indeed visitors to our county are having to drive on ill-maintained roads whose tortuous routes date back to the days of horse transport, and queue interminably through villages which should have been by-passed decades ago.

“Neither will people living in those villages, whose daily life is blighted by incessant, heavy traffic but have been repeatedly told there is no money to build by-passes, be all that impressed to learn that cash can suddenly be found for helping to restore a pile of stones.

“And I am sure the distant view of the monument will not come as any great consolation in future as drivers waste ever more time in traffic jams as a result of road spending in Somerset failing utterly to meet local need.”

The 53-metre high obelisk on the Blackdown Hills was built to commemorate the Duke of Wellington’s victory at the Battle of Waterloo.

Construction took more than 30 years and was completed in 1854.

It’s the tallest three-sided monument in the world but now it is showing its age: in 2007 its owner, the National Trust, closed it to the public and is now embarked a £2 million appeal to make it safe and re-open access to the viewing platform.